Wildlife protection not optional, Austria told
Austria has been told that it cannot leave conservation measures to the discretion of its regional authorities and must ensure that national laws make such a regime obligatory.
The European Court of Justice has held that Austria (and its various regions) has failed to completely and correctly transpose Articles 1(1) and (2), 6(1) and (2), 16(1) and 22 of the Habitats Directive.
In relation to Article 1, in the Salzburg region certain important definitions were not transposed.
In relation to Article 6(1) on conservation measures to be established for the special zones of protection, in High Austria authorities were left with discretion to adopt conservation measures, despite the provision of the Directive making such adoption obligatory.
The Court stated that in adopting such measures economic requirements could be taken into account. The provision was also inadequately transposed in Low Austria.
In relation to Article 6(2), requiring Member States to avoid the deterioration of natural habitats and the habitats of species and to avoid disturbances to the protected species, the provision was not transposed in Tyrol.
In relation to Article 16(1) on derogations from the duties in the Directive, in Low Austria and the Salzburg region the conditions to which the derogations were subject were not transposed, and an additional exemption was created in national law. The Court reiterated the fact that a simple administrative practice does not constitute transposition.
In relation to Article 22 on the introduction of non-indigenous species, an additional criterion was created by national law in Low Austria.
The text of the Opinion is available in French at the following link.